Ever find a piece of debris on the beach and wonder what it is and where it came from? Those questions have come up many times at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge since the passage of Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. Timbers from old sailing ships, bottles and other historic artifacts washed ashore onto Assateague Island during and after the storm.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Commonwealth of Virginia and State of Maryland archaeologists, volunteers, students and researchers have been working diligently to collect and preserve these artifacts when practical. Additionally, staff at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in cooperation with its federal, state and local partners have developed a unique “wreck tagging” program for old ship timbers. Through this research we hope to better understand how these relics of our seafaring history move around in the coastal environment. This information may help us to better protect and conserve our maritime history.